Travel can create lasting memories, but you don’t want yours to be nightmares about identity theft. Consider taking some proactive measures to minimize your risks before you head out on your spring break adventure or that winter cruise.
Don’t Leave Home with an Outdated Operating System
If you have a laptop or tablet, it’s probably ready to get packed up for the big trip. Before you zip in into place, take the time to check for operating system (OS) updates before you go. Ditto for your anti-virus software and any other apps you expect to use. Updates often include security upgrades and are well worth your time to upload and learning a few new procedures.
Don’t forget about Smartphones that also require regular updates. You don’t want to be one of the 14 percent of smartphone users who don’t update their OS and are missing out on new security upgrades.
Once you’ve complete the updates on your phone, laptop, or tablet, back up your devices before you travel, just in case you experience a loss or hacking.
Selfies? Don’t Give Burglars a Heads Up!
Many travelers love selfies, but these and other vacation shots often give away too much information. When you post an image on Facebook, anyone reading your public pages can see you’re away from home.
Plus, the techno-savvy viewer can browse metadata including the time and location you snapped each shot. Location info is frequently included by default, although some cameras will allow you to turn off or enable this location recording. Always weigh the risks before you enable the capture of GPS or other identifying data. Read more for more information about how to limit location data.
What’s in Your Wallet?
On the road, traveling light makes sense. That goes double for your wallet.
Keep two credit cards for expenses (one main and a spare), but leave your Social Security card at home! If you have Medicare, travel with a copy of that ID card that has your Social Security number blacked out.
Cash on the Go
Will you carry cash on this trip? How will you replenish your supply? ATMs can be a frequent target for skimmers. Avoid remote ATMs, which can be more easily tampered with and, just in case there’s a pinhole camera, get into the habit of covering the keypad with your other hand when entering that essential PIN.
Before you leave home, it is a great idea to set up some alerts for your bank cards. ID Watchdog offers a threshold alert system that allows you to create notifications on numerous accounts. You can receive an alert every time transactions exceed a set amount-an important way to help you more quickly detect fraud.
Check Accounts After You Unpack
Once you get home from that vacation, checking your bank statements should be included on your to-do list. Scan your documents carefully for fraudulent charges – the sooner the better. It is important to keep in mind that your right to dispute charges and obtain a refund has a 60-day expiration date under federal law.